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The aftertaste of poor workmanship far outlasts the aroma of a low price.

Selecting a Contractor

Investigation Means Less Frustration

As home energy prices continue to rise, so does the demand for energy conservation, goods, services, and qualified contractors to do the work. For many homeowners, hiring a contractor can be an unsettling experience. We have all heard stories about construction work not being finished, poor workmanship, time delays, and original cost quotations not being honored.

Although most companies are reputable, there are those that are less so when promoting their services.

Here are some tips to help you choose a reliable company:

1)  Be sure the contractor is licensed and bonded. In California, all licensed contractors possess a credit card-sized active license identification, issued by the Contractors State License Board. Don’t hesitate to ask for this identification when hiring a contractor. You can also call the State License Board tollfree at 800-321-2752 to check the contractor’s status.

2)  Ask for proof of liability insurance and worker’s compensation insurance. Reputable contractors will provide you with certificates verifying current coverages. As a precautionary measure, call the insurer to confirm insurance status.

3)  Request a list of references, preferably local people who have had work performed by the company you are considering. Proud contractors are usually anxious for you to contact previous satisfied customers. If it’s not too inconvenient, visit the previous customer and see the workmanship for yourself.

4)  Be certain that the work performed and the materials used meet or exceed local and federal government standards. Get everything in writing and remember, in California a maximum down payment of 10% or $1000, whichever is less, is all that is required.

5)  Beware of firms offering gifts, trips, or other unrelated sales incentives.

Additional questions you might want to ask include the number of years the contractor has been in business; how long the company has been at the same location; whether the contractor performs the majority of the work, or if most work is subcontracted to other firms.

California homeowners have a little-known “guardian angel” to help when dealing with contractors – the League of California Homeowners. This non-profit consumer advocate group performs a strict screening process for contractors providing energy conservation services. For more information on the League, call 909-931-1653 or visit lchome@homeowners.org

Price is certainly important when comparing quotations for work to be done. However, dealing with poor workmanship or undependable service can quickly erode the benefit of low price. As a consumer, performing your own due diligence when hiring a contractor can significantly lower the chances of you becoming the next horror story.


It's your house and your money, don't lose your head when selecting a contractor.

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